Just Trade collaborates with artisans around the world to create stylish, desirable handmade jewellery.
Founded in 2006 by Jewellery Designer Laura Cave, Just Trade is a collaborative, innovative brand. Born out of first hand contact with real people in the developing world and the recognition that in order for small fair trade projects to be sustainable, they need a long-term route to market for their goods. Just Trade now works with eight groups of artisans in Peru, Ecuador and India.
JUST TRADE PRINCIPLES :
1) Design Excellence – Training not only in how to make handcrafted, well made products but focusing on trends and design for an export market.
2) Collaboration – Annual trips to re-visit our artisan partners for focused product development.
3) Fair Trade – Complying fully with the 10 principles of fair trade, as set out by the WFTO.
4) Sustainability – Selecting materials that are locally sourced and environmentally sound.
Between us, the Just Trade Team has over twenty years of experience working with fair trade projects in South America, Asia and Africa.
After studying at leading universities, the members of the UK design team have individual specialisms in jewellery, photography, illustration and graphic design.
We offer jewellery and accessories made out of crochet cotton, Tagua nut and brass or silver in a range of finishes; combining traditional techniques with modern design to make marketable products.
Just Trade have worked with Tate, Imperial War Museums, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York amongst other high profile clients to produce commercially successful ranges to run alongside permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.
OceanJ asked …..
· What is your name and where are you from?
Laura Cave – founder of Just Trade, born in Paisley, Scotland, grew up in Sussex, Surrey and Worcester. Studied at The School of Jewellery, Birmingham and Royal College of Art, London.
· Did you always want to be a designer?
I have always loved making things. I knew I wanted to go to art college and study jewellery, once I’d done that I realised I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. Many of my contemporaries went straight into starting their own businesses as designer makers but I felt I wanted more work experience. I ended up freelancing and worked for a whole range of different people and businesses including contemporary jewellery designer Jane Adam, The Assay Office in Birmingham, an independent high street jeweller, amongst others. I then went and volunteered with Achkiy Fair Trade jewellery project in Lima, Peru for three months before starting my MA at the Royal College of Art.
· How did your career start?
I started selling friendship bracelets to my classmates when I was about 8! …. but I founded Just Trade in July 2006 with the primary aim of providing fairly paid, flexible work and training for women living in some of the poorest shantytowns in Lima, Peru.
Whilst studying jewellery design at The School of Jewellery in Birmingham and later the Royal College of Art in London, I visited Peru on numerous occasions to volunteer with a fair trade jewellery project, it was there that my friendships grew with local women. I saw incredible potential in the skills that they already had, materials that were available locally and their desire to learn more. I wanted to collaborate with them make desirable products that are valued not only for their fair trade approach but also for the quality of the design and craftsmanship.
The relationships I have built with the women in Peru are what drive us to make the business succeed.
At the heart of the company, I aim to put people before profit. Products are marketed on the strength of the design and craftsmanship. Everyone is valued for who they are and encouraged to develop existing skills, learn new ones and then teach others.
· Tell us about how you start the process of designing / creating something.
Every year I visit the projects in Peru, Ecuador and India to work alongside the women and young people. I always approach all new product development and skills training in a collaborative way, listening and learning as much as teaching and demonstrating. I strongly believe that this collaborative approach leads to better products and encourages a greater sense of worth and self esteem amongst the women.
· Where does the inspiration come from?
Anywhere and everywhere!
· From the initial idea to the completed product, how long does the process usually take?
It depends on the product, recently we designed and produced a bespoke pendant for the Sir John Soane Museum and the whole process including production took about three weeks, but normally it is longer, it depends on the technique, group of artisans and if it is for our core range or is for a specific customer.
· What designers do you admire?
I admire so many artists and designers ….. a lot of them are Jewellery Designers and they include… Jane Adam, Kayo Saito, Onno Boekhoudt, Jo Pond, Kamilla Rurberg, Timothy Information Limited.
Artists …. Felix Gonzales Torres, Alexander Calder,
· Do you have an all time favourite piece that you have designed?
I think the poppy brooch that we designed and make for the Imperial War Museum, although it is not a ground breaking design the income earned from making these poppies has transformed lives. The women who make them have been able to improve their homes, pay for medical treatment and educate their children. Rather than travelling great distances for long shifts in a factory, they can work from home, which makes a huge difference to the care they are able to give their families.
· What is your favourite colour and why?
I love all colour and my favourite thing is combining colours. The ladies in Peru always laugh at how much time I spend selecting the right coloured cotton for our crocheted brooches.
· Can you tell us what we might expect to see in your next collection?
We are currently working with a new project in rural Ecuador and making a collection of raku fired ceramic jewellery inspired by artefacts from ancient indigenous communities, which we are launching at ‘Pulse’ in May.
· What hobbies do you have?
I don’t really have time for hobbies, but do have two house rabbits called Professor John Watkin and Colonel Elisabeth Lucy Jenkins!
· Can you share with us something that nobody knows about you?
I am very open and tend to talk a lot so unfortunately there isn’t much that people don’t know …. Sorry!